Today was a big day at CinemaCon. STX, Warner Bros and Disney all had their big panels and since we're so close to release of Solo: A Star Wars Story they actually treated us to a nice, juicy full sequence from the latest Star Wars movie.
The scene had Emilia Clarke's Qi'Ra leading Alden Ehrenreich's Young Han Solo through some dingy gambling den to meet some mystery person, who is said to have slipped through the Empire's fingers more than just about anyone else. He has a ship they need for whatever they're up to. Star Wars fans know what's coming up.
They pass a ring in the center of the smoke and alien-filled hive of scum and villainy where beat up droids are murdering the shit out of each other and then they get to the high stakes table where, yes, Mr. Lando Calrissian is playing some Sabacc with a bunch of scoundrels.
Han walks up and the angle is low, catching his trademark DL-44 blaster at his hip, his legs framing Lando for this iconic moment of two charming rogues meeting each other for the first time.
Donald Glover as Lando is everything you want it to be. He's so at ease in this role and naturally charming. It's like he was meant to be Billy Dee Williams' heir. He has some line as Han walks up where he's talking to one of the aliens at the table and it was something like “There are no liars in this game, just players.” Simple line, but the way he delivered it felt so authentically Lando that I was instantly won over.
Ehrenreich as Solo I'm still iffy on. He's got the charm factor and the swagger, but something felt a little forced about it. I'm not sure if I'll feel the same way seeing his character in the context of the full movie, but he didn't feel as natural a fit to me as Glover did playing Lando.
They have a great interaction to start. Han: “Is this seat taken?” “If the seat's empty, it's not taken, friend.” Han introduces himself, Lando returns the favor.
Han wins his first hand of Sabacc (“Beginner's luck,” he says)... the game seemed to be played like poker, where there were rounds of betting before revealing your hand. Lando wins the next one and a conversation develops about their ships... Han's laying the groundwork for a big bet where he bets his ship (whether it exists or not) against Lando's, which we know is going to be the Millennium Falcon.
That moment eventually comes, but not before Lando needles Solo a little bit, calling him “Han,” not “Hawn.” Han corrects him. Lando repeats his mispronunciation and that made my inner geek stand up and clap a little bit. I wondered if they were going to address that since Billy Dee's Lando always mispronounced Han's name in The Empire Strikes Back. Now there's a character reason for it.
So, the big bet comes and Lando puts his ship on the line and then... I don't know. The footage cuts off.
If I'm a betting man I'd say they did that for a reason. Han will win the Falcon from Lando, but I have a feeling this is a case where they're going to throw a twist on your expectation. Or they don't and I'm wrong, which happens all the time. But something in my gut is whispering that there's going to be something more to this scene.
I'm a little bit of a tougher sell on these spin-off movies than most. I love a lot of the detail of Rogue One, but I couldn't shake the fan-fiction feeling I got from the movie. This Solo footage was fun, had great, colorful Star Wars-y feeling sets, wardrobe, aliens and characters, but I got some of that same vibe here.
That's not necessarily a bad thing. People loved that feeling in Rogue One, just like people ate up the EU books. It's filling a niche and I can't begrudge those fans.
For my part, it looked fun. If that's
all the movie is I'll be happy. I just want it to be fun.
Make sure to keep an eye out for more CinemaCon coverage as this crazy fest goes on!